A sensitive and unique area for single members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints involves the dating and marriage situation of widows. Basically, we understand as members that if a man is a widow (sometimes called a “widower”) and he was sealed in the temple to his first wife, he can be sealed to another 2nd wife as well after the first has passed away. However, this is different for women. When a woman has been sealed to her first husband in the temple and he passes away, she cannot be sealed to a second new husband (short of being granted a cancellation of sealings, which is usually challenging to be granted in such situations).
Why does this difference exist for men and women as widows? We don’t fully understand why. However, it seems it has to do with the priesthood: a holder of the priesthood can be sealed to more than one woman through that priesthood, but the same is not true in reverse (as women do not hold the priesthood except indirectly through her husband). Perhaps more will be revealed as to why this is the case in the future. And of course we will fully understand how and why this difference exists in the next life. For now, here a few thoughts on the subject for all possible parties involved:
Thoughts for Women Dating a Widow that is a Man:
A common and understandable concern for a woman dating a widowed man who has been sealed to his first wife is basically, “what would it be like having to share my husband with another woman?” “What if I don’t like her or she doesn’t like me?” “What if we don’t get along?” “Who would he prefer or like better?” “What if he likes me better—and I have to deal with her unhappiness about that?” “What if he prefers her—could I live with that?” “In any event, would it be a competition for his time and attention?”
These are all fair questions and very understandable, given how some of those challenges could be a real true challenge and problem in this mortal life. However, it is important to remember that if all parties involved were of a celestial level of worthiness and valiancy, full of charity, kindness, consideration, and love, you can have full confidence that such challenges could and would be worked out perfectly without contention or bad feelings. We currently live in a telestial level world full or telestial and terrestrial level people, which makes for an extremely poor comparison point. The contentions, drama, and friction common to this world do not exist at the Celestial level. In other words, when everyone in the celestial kingdom is a high quality, righteous person, such issues will be handled well. Perfectly, in fact. You can fully have faith in that, 100%. Because:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory. For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me. But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.
--Doctrine & Covenants 132:21-24
Thoughts for Men Dating a Widow that is a Woman:
Basically, when a woman has been sealed to a first husband and if you are a man dating her, if you marry her it will be for the rest of your lives together on this earth, but not in the next life. Still, this is a good prospect to engage in if you are both good, worthy people who treat each other well. Your companionship together in this life will greatly support and bless each other. You can and will as the husband strengthen and develop your relationship and marriage skills and experience that will be invaluable going into the next life—a life where you should then have the opportunity to find and be sealed to a different woman worthy or and wanting the same blessing. Remember, “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.” –Doctrine & Covenants 130:18-19
Also remember this promise: “Many of the most important deprivations of mortality will be set right in the Millennium, which is the time for fulfilling all that is incomplete in the great plan of happiness for all of our Father’s worthy children. We know that will be true of temple ordinances. I believe it will also be true of family relationships and experiences.” --Elder Dallin H Oaks, The Great Plan of Happiness Ensign, Nov. 1993
In other words, when you are living a celestial-level lifestyle, when you are worthy of a temple marriage and would have taken on that covenant and commitment if it were possible apart from her previous sealing, it is my understanding and opinion that you will be granted the opportunity to be sealed to another woman in the next life. Husbands marrying a previously sealed wife would not be punished, denied, or limited any blessings in the eternity for doing so. Quite the contrary.
Thoughts for the Widow:
Along with considering the thoughts already mentioned above (but from the position as the widow), as a widow it is important to remember two additional things. First, new people you are dating and especially a future spouse will be highly sensitive to the way you discuss and refer to your ex husband or wife awaiting you on the other side. If you overly pine for, compliment, and compare them to your ex-spouse, your new partner will feel inadequate, in competition, and in a futile place where they can never measure up or ever be “as good”. So please keep such comparative thoughts and feelings minimal or to yourself. Same thing will negative comments you may say about your ex-spouse. Saying too much negative about the ex-spouse could make you seem critical or still “hung up” on them. In short, measure your words carefully about the ex and remember the old saying, “discretion is the better part of valor”.
The second thing to remember as a widow is that until you get remarried, other singles may be sensitive to the way you talk about your previous marriage and sealing. If you are perceived as coming across as “better than” other divorced or never married singles because of your sealing as a widow, this could rub other singles the wrong way, even possibly come across as arrogant. So please keep any thoughts or feelings on this subject within side yourself or said with great sensitivity and consideration to others without the blessing yet of a temple sealing.
Spiritual Direction--Trust in the Lord:
Such questions with special considerations for widows, those who marry widows, and sealing issues were recently touched on in the April 2019 general conference by President Dallin H. Oakes. He stated: “
“My dear brothers and sisters, a letter I received some time ago introduces the subject of my talk. The writer was contemplating a temple marriage to a man whose eternal companion had died. She would be a second wife. She asked this question: would she be able to have her own house in the next life, or would she have to live with her husband and his first wife? I just told her to trust the Lord.
“I continue with an experience I heard from a valued associate, which I share with his permission. After the death of his beloved wife and the mother of his children, a father remarried. Some grown children strongly objected to the remarriage and sought the counsel of a close relative who was a respected Church leader. After hearing the reasons for their objections, which focused on conditions and relationships in the spirit world or in the kingdoms of glory that follow the Final Judgment, this leader said: “You are worried about the wrong things. You should be worried about whether you will get to those places. Concentrate on that. If you get there, all of it will be more wonderful than you can imagine.” What a comforting teaching! Trust in the Lord!
“…Trust in the Lord is a familiar and true teaching in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That was Joseph Smith’s teaching when the early Saints experienced severe persecutions and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. That is still the best principle we can use when our efforts to learn or our attempts to find comfort encounter obstacles in matters not yet revealed or not adopted as the official doctrine of the Church.
“That same principle applies to unanswered questions about sealings in the next life or desired readjustments because of events or transgressions in mortality. There is so much we do not know that our only sure reliance is to trust in the Lord and His love for His children.”
In sum, if you or a new spouse were to be a widow with a previous sealing but you love each other and are willing to live a celestial-level lifestyle, go ahead and trust in the Lord to work out the details in the next life. Just focus on being worthy and valiant, acceptable for the celestial kingdom. And finally, remember that “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.
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About the author
Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (www.dr-rg.com), practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to email@example.com. Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at www.dr-rg.com/lds; email me questions to firstname.lastname@example.org).